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Full text of "Propagation of vines"

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December, 1920 



Vines are propagated by rooting ' ' cuttings ' ' of the ' - canes. ' ' Canes 
are the mature growth of the current year ; cuttings, pieces of these 
canes, usually from 10 inches to 18 inches long. Cuttings are some- 
times planted directly in the vineyard, but are usually first rooted in 
a nursery. 

Choice of Cuttings. — The vines from which the cuttings are to be 
taken should be examined while they still hold their leaves and fruit, 
to see that they are healthy and of the variety desired. Vines which 
have suffered from drought or disease or which have been defoliated 
by insects or frost before the wood is mature yield poor cuttings. 
Wood (canes) from young vines which have not yet borne is often im- 
mature, and that from vines which have borne excessive crops is often 
ill-nourished. Cuttings from either are likely to fail or grow poorly. 

The best wood for cuttings is of medium size and with moderately 
short joints. Very short joints indicate disease and very long joints 
a lack of nourishment or maturity. 

The outer bark should be a clear yellow or purple brown, according 
to the variety, and without dark blotches or immature areas. "When 
the cane is cut with a sharp knife the inner bark should appear green 
and full of sap, the wood should be hard and free from dark specks 
or streaks, and the pith of moderate size, clear, firm, and light colored. 

Cuttings which do not fill these specifications should not be planted 
directly in the vineyard. Less perfect cuttings may be planted in the 
nursery. Some are likely to grow well and will be suitable for vine- 
yard planting the next year. 

Time to Make Cuttings. — Cuttings are supposed to be best if made 
from vines pruned within a week or two after the fall of the leaves, 
but, if the vines are healthy and the wood well matured, they may be 
made from vines pruned at any time from the fall of the leaves until 
a week before the starting of the buds in spring. 

It is best to make the cuttings as soon as possible after the vines 
are pruned ; but if the weather is cool the prunings may lie a week or 
two in the vineyard without injury. 

Method of Making Cuttings. — Cuttings of from half an inch to 
one-third of an inch in diameter are best, and they should not be more 
than 1 inch at the butt nor less than one quarter inch at the top. The 
shorter they are the better, providing they can be made to root. In 
good nursery soil with special care cuttings of 8 inches do very well. 
Usually 10 to 12 inches is better. For direct planting in the vineyard 
they should be from 15 to 18 inches. The looser and drier the soil 


and the hotter the climate the longer they should be. In wet heavy 
soil in the cooler regions short cuttings are preferable. 

Kind of Cuttings. — Cuttings may be made from any part of the 
vine if they fill the specifications already given. In some cases only 
one cutting can be made from one cane ; in others, three, four, or more. 
There seems to be no reason to avoid suckers and watersprouts if they 
are of the proper quality. Laterals, if large and well matured, make 
excellent cuttings and are often preferable in long-jointed varieties, 
like Sultanina. 

The base of the cutting should be as close as possible to a bud, 
providing the diaphragm or cross partition is left. If a pithy piece 
of wood is left at the base the cutting does not heal over when it roots 
and is apt to decay. At the top of the cutting about three-quarters of 
an inch of internode should be left above the uppermost bud. 

Care of Cuttings. — If the cuttings are made in planting time they 
should be planted as soon as made, with care to prevent drying. If, 
as is more usual, they are made several weeks or months before plant- 
ing, their success depends very much on the way they are handled in 
the meanwhile. 

The amount of growth that a cutting will make the first year de- 
pends on the kind of soil it is planted in, the regularity and sufficiency 
of the water supply, and the temperature and length of the growing 
season. A properly handled cutting in suitable soil in the Imperial 
Valley will make as much growth in the first season as a similar cutting 
equally well handled in a cool locality will make in three seasons. 

In order to utilize the growing season to the full in any region, the 
cuttings should start to grow as early as they are reasonably safe from 
frost or prolonged cold wet weather. 

The chief danger in the cooler regions is planting too early. Several 
weeks of cold wet weather may cause them to rot in the ground, 
especially in low places or in heavy soils. Under such conditions April 
is perhaps the best month for planting. In the hottest regions the 
chief danger is the drying of the cuttings before they root, or sunburn 
of the young growth before the roots are sufficiently developed to 
supply water. In these conditions January or February are perhaps 
the best months for planting. In any case, it is important that the 
roots shall start as soon as or sooner than the leaves, and the cuttings 
should be handled with this object in view. 

Heat and water are necessary to start either roots or buds. We 
can delay either by keeping the cuttings dry and cool or hasten either 
by keeping them moist and warm. Too much heat may cause the 
cuttings to decay. There is little danger from cold, even freezing, if 
the cuttings are mature. Too much water will cause rapid decay, 
especially at high temperatures. Dryness is less dangerous, especially 
at low temperatures. 

In view of these facts, the best way of handling the cuttings before 
planting seems to be to bury them in moderately dry sand in a cool 
place until about two to three weeks before planting, then to moisten 
the sand, and increase its temperature until planting commences. 

A good way to do this is to place a pile of sand in a sunny place 
early in the season while dry sand can be obtained. The pile should 


be protected from surface water by means of a shallow surrounding 
trench. The moisture can be controlled by sprinkling if necessary or 
by covering with boards or canvas in case of too much rain. 

The cuttings, as soon as made, are put up in bundles of 100 to 200, 
well tied and with the butts all level. These bundles are then buried 
carefully and regularly in the sand pile with the butts up and all at 
the same level. Sand should be packed in between the bundles and 
as much as possible between the cuttings in the bundles. Between 3 
and 4 inches of sand should then be placed over the butts of the cut- 
tings, making a perfectly level bed. 

To protect the cuttings from moisture and heat and so to keep them 
dormant the sand should then be well covered with 12 to 18 inches of 
straw, chaff, or similar material. 

About two or three weeks before planting is to commence the straw 
covering should be removed and the 4-inch top layer of sand thor- 
oughly moistened by sprinkling. The moisture and the heat from the 
sun will then start the process of root formation. The sand must be 
closely watched and sprinkled as often as is necessary to prevent dry- 
ing, only enough water being used to moisten the top layer of sand. 
The drier the tops of the cuttings, which are at the bottom of the sand 
pile, the longer they will remain dormant. 

After seven to ten days the butts of the cuttings should be examined 
every few days. As soon as they show signs of white healing tissue 
(callus) and checking of the joint where the roots are forming they are 
ready to plant. Planting should not be delayed until roots appear, as 
these roots will be destroyed in planting and others will have to form. 

When planting extends over several weeks, the removal of the sand 
layer should be gradual and at the same rate as the planting will take 
place so that the cuttings when planted will all be in the proper 

This method is excellent and results in a large percentage of rooted 
vines and large growth. It is also dangerous because unless carefully 
and skillfully carried out the cuttings may be injured and not grow 
at all. 

Unless there is certainty of the method being properly carried out 
it is best simply to bury the cuttings in moderately dry sand in a cool 
place protected from sun and rain. A cellar, shed, or other shady 
place is suitable. 

Planting Cuttings. — The cuttings may be planted in the nursery by 
means of spades and shovels, assisted sometimes by the use of a plow 
or other means, according to the character of the soil, the number of 
cuttings to plant, and the means available. The mechanical details 
will vary in each case. In all cases, however, certain conditions must 
be observed to get the best results. 

The soil should be fairly rich. The texture is not of great import- 
ance, though excessively sandy or very heavy soils are not suitable. 
The soil should be well plowed or subsoiled to a depth of at least 12 
inches, unless naturally open and loose. It should be well graded so 
that it can be easily and regularly irrigated. 

If the cuttings have been callused in the way described, they should 
be removed from the sand just before planting and carefully protected 


from drying by being placed in planting cans or boxes and covered 
with wet sacks. They should not be exposed to the sun or dry air for 
more than a few minutes, even when planting. 

If the cuttings have been kept in dry sand, they should be placed 
in water for 24 to 48 hours before planting. This is best done by- 
placing them in five-gallon oil cans filled with water, where they should 
remain until taken to the field for planting. 

They should be planted with the second bud level with the ground, 
that is, with one full joint above the surface. A line or long batten 
should be used to insure the row being straight. This much simplifies 
cultivation and hoeing. The soil should be firmed around the butts 
and unless quite moist settled with water when the trench is about 
three-fourths full. The soil should then be brought up around the 
cuttings almost to the top bud by hand or a suitable implement so 
that each row of cuttings is in the middle of a slight ridge. This 
facilitates irrigation. 

If water has been run in while planting, no irrigation will be needed 
for about two weeks. Otherwise the nursery should be irrigated within 
a day or two after planting. Subsequent irrigation will depend on the 
soil and the climate, but it should be relatively frequent during the 
first part of the season so as to start growth early and to keep it going 
until the vines have made a top growth of 12 or more inches and have 
developed a good root system that will make them less sensitive to 
drying out. 

Irrigation should stop early enough to prevent late growth. About 
the beginning or middle of September the tips should cease to make 
new growth and the canes should commence to show the brown of 
mature wood at the base. Usually no irrigation should be given after 
the last days of August. 

Digging and Care of Booted Tines. — The vines may be dug as soon 
as they have dropped their leaves or may be left in the ground until 
they are needed for planting. The ground should be moist down to 
the roots, but not wet when the vines are dug. All that are fit to plant 
should be sorted into two classes, number 1 and number 2. Number 1 
vines are those which have made a well ripened top growth of at least 
6 inches, have healthy roots of at least one-eighth inch diameter at the 
bottom, and show no dead areas or mechanical injuries on the part of 
the vine that represents the original cutting. Number 2 vines are 
those having a smaller growth but well matured wood and no serious 
defects. Vines showing black knot, nematodes, serious mechanical 
injuries, or little or no mature wood or roots should be rejected. 

The roots are tied up in bundles of 50 to 100, according to size, 
and the tops and roots shortened with a broad axe to 4 or 5 inches after 
tying. Each bundle should be furnished with a good label showing 
variety, number, and grade. They should not be exposed much to the 
sun and should be buried in moist sand the day they are dug. If they 
are to be kept long they should be buried in a shady place or shed. 
They should be kept as cool as possible until planted and should be 
planted before buds or roots have started to swell or to grow. 

In hauling or shipping they should be well protected from drying 
by means of wet sacks or wet straw if left out of the ground for more 
than two days.